Ross Barkley ready to help fill Eden Hazard void at Chelsea

Ross Barkley says he is ready to step up and help fill the gap at Chelsea left by Eden Hazard’s departure for Real Madrid.

Hazard was Chelsea’s top scorer and supplier of assists in the Premier League last season, with 16 and 15 respectively. Barkley, who scored three times and set up five goals in 27 league matches, 14 of which were as a substitute, accepts he and others must ensure Hazard is not missed.

“You have to fill in,” the midfielder said. “Everyone in the squad understands he was a great player but he is gone. He has new challenges now and we have to replace his goals and create the chances. We have that much quality in the squad we will all step up to the plate.”

Barkley scored a stunning free-kick in Sunday’s friendly at Reading, having also found the net in a win over Barcelona in Japan, and was forthright when asked whether he was ready to take responsibility. “Yes, of course,” he said. “Last season when Eden wasn’t playing we still won games, we still created chances. We know he is an exceptional player but we have exceptional players in the squad.

“We have young ones that will step up and produce the goods as well. We have Callum [Hudson-Odoi] coming back from injury and we have signed Christian Pulisic – he is an exceptional talent. We have wingers who can create from tight positions, players who can shoot from distance and strikers – young and experienced – who are hungry for goals.”

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Frank Lampard has changed Barkley’s role, with greater emphasis on getting into the box and being “hungry for goals” too. “I have been playing a bit further forward, to think like a striker, especially as a No 10, but try to help out defensively and work hard off the ball.”

Barkley is enjoying playing under Lampard, whom he said had the squad “doing double sessions all the time”.

“He is one of my idols as a kid. I was always watching Match of the Day; you always saw him every week scoring goals. He’s got all the respect from the players for the player he was and the person he is.”



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